Khalilzad Cable: Militias and "Neighborhood Governments" Run Baghdad

Here’s the PDF

Non-PDF summary in Editor & Publisher

The ‘Republic of Fear’ is happening right now.

People often don’t even know who are behind the threats they receive - to cover their faces, to stop driving themselves, to stop using cell phones (women), to stop wearing shorts or jeans (men, children), the U.S. Embassy’s Iraqi staff are afraid to let even their families know where they work, the sectarian faultlines are tearing intermarried families apart, Iraqis working with Westerners don’t carry Western cellphones in case of abduction, and that’s just the start.

Paragraph 19: "Staff members say they daily assess how to move safely in public. Often, if they must travel outside their own neighborhoods, they adopt the clothing, language, and traits of the area. In Jadriya, for example, one needs to conform to the SCIRI/Badr ethic; in Yusufiya, a strict Sunni conservative dress code has taken hold. Adhamiya and Salihiya, controlled by the secular Ministry of Defense, are not conservative. Moving inconspicuously in Sadr City requires Shiite conservative dress and a particular lingo. Once-upscale Mansur district, near the Green Zone, according to one employee, was an “unrecognizable ghost town.” (My hand transcription from PDF; apologies for any typos.)

Paragraph 20: “Since Samarra, Baghdadis have honed their survival skills. Vocabulary has shifted to reflect new behavior. Our staff - and our contacts - have become adept in modifying behavior to aviod “Alasas,” informants who keep an eye out for “outsiders” in neighborhoods. The Alasa mentality is becoming entrenched as Iraqi security forces fail to gain public confidence.” (My transcription again.)

Paragraph 21: “Our staff report that security and services are being rerouted through “local providers” whose affiliations are vague. As noted above, those who are admonishing citizens on their dress are not known to the residents. Neighborhood power providers are not well known either, nor is it clear how they avoid robbery and targeting. Personal safety depends on good relations with the “neighborhood” governments, who barricade streets and ward off outsiders. The central government, our staff says, is not relevant; even local mukhtars have been displaced or coopted by militias. People no longer trust most neighbors.” (Same note.)

Part of Paragraph 6, courtesy of the E&P link: “An Arab newspaper editor told us he is preparing an extensive survey of ethnic cleansing, which he said is taking place in almost every Iraqi province, as political parties and their militias are seemingly engaged in tit-for-tat reprisals all over Iraq.”

I don’t have any answers. Just don’t tell me how good news is going unreported. This isn’t the Liberal Media; this is U.S. Embassy reportage; it’s the sort of thing they’re NOT sharing with us. (The WaPo wasn’t supposed to see this cable.)

This is how it is. After three years.

Issue for debate?

Look at his last paragraph. The issue he raises is the lapdogness of the US mass media.

Or, if you like, “Is there any good we can possibly still do there?”

Neither one is a new topic here, of course.

Per the forum description, it’s part of a long-running discussion of [one of] the great questions of our time." It’s not a Pitting, so it doesn’t belong there. Basically, I’m bringing this into the discussion here so it can inform the larger debate about Iraq here; it seemed a bit too significant to bury in the 97th post of an existing Iraq thread.

Needless to say, I’ll defer to the judgment of the mods, but that’s why I thought it belonged here, in a thread of its own.

Needed a quotation mark before "long-running, like so:

“long-running discussion of [one of] the great questions of our time.” Anyway, you get the idea.

Some digging turned up the intial Washington Post article here:
From the Embassy, a Grim Report

It’s under 100 words long, stuck in section ‘B’.
The Post Appears to be the only major paper or network that carried the story at all.

I guess that trumpeting Zarqawi’s death, Bush’s turn-of-the-tide visit to Baghdad, and subsequent ‘gut feeling’ assessment of president Maliki were considered more ‘real’, ‘relevant’ and ‘important’ than any ‘facts’ from the theatre of operations.

So did Bush get a bump in the polls, or is he just about ready to get one?

To be fair, as far as Sunday’s news is concerned, they may have just gotten hold of this. It’s definitely different that they printed the cable in its entirety, but with only the briefest of introductions.

Still, by today, this should be a story everywhere.

Which is especially weird, given Bush’s track record of looking people in the eye and looking into their souls.

I’m an aid worker living in Baghdad and I can confirm that paragraphs 19, 20 and 21 are absolutely true for our staff.

Good news is going unreported.

Sure looks like one to me. Do you honestly think this is going to be anything but yet another pile-on about Bush’s war?

In fact, I don’t see how this is any different from this thread This is what we’re fighting (against?) (for?), started by none other than… you.

John, if three years after seizing Baghdad there are such grave risks for Iraqis who work at the US embassy, just where is this good news that supposedly exists but the media supposedly ignore?

One quote I found quite telling:

The Iraqi security forces have thus far failed to gain public confidence in Baghdad. If they can’t do it there with the huge US presence, just what is it like in the rest of Iraq? This isn’t Al Franken or Howard Dean saying this, it is the US State Department under White House control. The fact that they would dare write such a memo that contradicts the administration line I think says a lot of how deeply they fear for their workers’ safety.

What makes you think any rational or honest debate on the subject can or will be anything else ? Do you want to ban Iraq from everything but the BBQ Pit ?

Great. We’d all love to hear some. Whaddaya got?

Oh, yeah, reporters who dare to leave the Green Zone tend to get blown up. There have been more reporters killed in this war than in all of WW2. I don’t blame them one bit, do you?

Not that its particularly relevent, but do you have a cite for this?



It’s about time for Ryan_Liam to drop in and explain how the U.S.-supported Iraqi government really is an effective government despite all appearances.

One good news in Iraq is our bicycles

It certainly cannot, or will not, with the likes of you around.

Thank you. :slight_smile: That IS pretty striking. I especially found this part a bit disturbing:

It really illustrates how vicious this war truely is.


I think it’s about to become bad form to quote the Google ads at the bottom of the page, but I couldn’t resist. There’s one that says, “Meet local Christians.” As if.

And I’ll just say to the Panglosses among us (though they’re a little shy at the moment) that the testimony of Khalilzad, and our own madmonk, ought to count for double in this debate.

Honest people ? War opponents ? Liberals ?! :eek: